Friday, June 19, 2009

Head Student Lunch

I have just finished having lunch with 5 of my head students (Tara, Rita, Kayla, Chad and Quentin). We try to meet every week on a Friday, but I have had a lot of meetings and courses on a Friday so we hadn't met for awhile so I took them to Two Fish.

We had a great conversation with each explaining how they were tracking towards their qualifications and their planning for next year. We have a couple heading into Health Sciences, one into the Navy, one into engineering and one into writing. What a neat bunch with great aspirations.

The best conversation was the didcussion about our recent Three Day Wananga. I know not all of them were in favour of the programme but in responding to their questions I found myself explaining my vision for the school and schooling in general in the clearest way.

All of us, students and teachers, have been locked in by the shackles of three years of high stakes qualifications which promotes credit gathering to a higher level than learning. I really enjoyed talking about this with them. I explained that we could ignore the form of assessment and get into learning and it wouldn't matter what the assessment tool was they would still be able to prove their understanding. The tragedy is that the way we structure the learning now a chunk of kids cope successfully with the qualifications system, but another chunk don't. I believe if we packaged the learning in a model similar to the Three Day Wananga all of the time, these brightest kids would still be able to prove their learning, but just as importantly the rest of the kids would have more opportunity to do so as well.

At the moment, all it seems we can manage is tinkering around.

I had a good meeting with our Ahi Kaa team last night (piloting an integrated, home room approach). I was abit despondent before the meeting, but came away re-enthused as the group talked about how they could see it working better next year. They have committed to a project-based approach in Term IV when they have "permission" to abandon the traditional curriculum altogether.

Their thinking for next year includes trialling with two classes and having two teachers teaching the full core to each class. I like the sound of it. Now...... all I need is another dedicated room, some passionate staff wanting to work harder than every one else with no extra time and with really tight budgets. Should be easy!

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